Tips to a better homecoming season! (….but applies to all events)

September 25, 2012 by Arnoldo Offermann

Some of you may be mid-way through homecoming season while some of you may just be in the beginning. Knock out a few hundred of these and talk to enough DJs, and you pick up enough preparation tidbits.

Some of these are common sense, but a nice refresher, and some will give you thought for the following year. Some of these tips are the sort that i wish I discussed during the summer. Whoops.

1) When sending out a contract, keep the proposal saved so you can reference it each year. Take this time to write down the parts and gear that you will use to pull off the event. This is especially helpful to multi-ops!

2) If you’re like me, you create floor plans of gyms and venues, complete with confirmed locations of separate outlets. Save these.

3) Speaking of floor plan, get the Magic Plan app (iOS, not sure about Android). With a few simple clicks, you can design an accurate floor plan. This is perfect for gyms or small hotels that don’t have such “fancy diagrams and all that witchcraft.”

4) The more expensive a light fixture is, the more safety cables it needs, haha. Seriously though, if you have an expensive mover, or a heavy Source 4, considering using more than one safety cable. It may sound overkill to some of you, but safety cables are cheaper and better than insurance.

5) Speaking of safety cables, EVERY fixture on a truss should have one. Even a lightweight fixture. Sure, your clamp may hold up to 100lbs and the light may weigh 5, but guess what bass and jumping students create?

6) …that’s right, a heavy amount of vibration. Said vibration causes the bolts on the clamps to undo themselves. If you leave your clamps on the lights and never take them off, always check for tightness before hanging the light. They tend to undo themselves after a while. Believe me, nothing on earth is more nerve wracking than seeing your light dangle across people’s heads.

7) Buy a Kill A Watt. This handy-dandy device measures the amperage pull of your gear. If you do not know the inrush, average, and peak current of your devices, you really should. Saw a DJ who asked for a circuit for each sub, when they barely sucked 5 amps each.

8) Speaking of electrical doodads, a circuit sniffer is good, too. This device plugs into one outlet. As you “sniff” the breakers, it’ll tell you if it’s a match or not. Perfect for venues that aren’t fans of you mapping things out by shutting off all breakers.

9) Know your music, duh. Don’t just look at national charts, but see what’s trending locally. The last two years have seen a huge rise in local artists that are making it big in their home state. Connect with these artists and get their clean edits.

10) Steel-toed shoes are a life-saver when dealing with heavy objects… such as a 3×3 Global Truss base plate. My recommendation? The Brahma series at Wal-Mart with a Dr. Scholl’s custom fit or Redwing insole. The result is a super comfortable, but safe shoe.

11) Get rigger’s gloves. It was a nice feeling waking up to hands that didn’t feel like they were on fire after the event. Riggers gloves come in many types. My favorite are the ones with the rubber backs to pretect knuckles, cloth side to wipe off sweat, and breathable fabric. These are very similar to mechanic’s gloves, except these have the thumb, index, and midle finger tips cut out for precision jobs.

12) Invest in good underwear and socks! I bought a great pair of work socks (low cut) and fancy schmancy breathable underwear that prevents the nasty after-effects that sweating gives. Needless to say, it’s a night and day difference!

13) An anti-fatigue mat is cheap and super-helpful! If you’re on scaffolding , it gives you something soft to sit/kneel on and during the event it keeps your dogs from barking!

14) If you want instant energy but want to avoid sodas, consider the Crystal Light energy packs. These little packets add on to a standard water bottle but have a nice boost of energy without the nasty soda side effects. I won’t lie, I’m addicted to Mountain Dew Code Red at events.

15) DJs seems to struggle with proper diet. Skip the fast food and go for a granola or power bar for a quick snack in between the setup. Plus, it gives a nice kick of energy.

16) This may be TMI, but learn which foods trigger your bowel’s built-in machine gun. Avoid those.

17) Own an expensive smart phone? Otterbox or similar. Enough said.

18) Arrive early. Part of working smarter, not harder, is to give yourself time to breathe. Always bring an assistant for large setups, you’ll notice the difference when it comes to actually do the wiki-wiki thing.

19) Wear ALL black during setup and strike; your techs should remain in such during the dance. It’s proper stage etiquette and you no longer look like “just a DJ with a bunch of cool gear.”

20) Drink lots and lots and lots of water. Man, I wish there was a porta potty behind my DJ rig. 😉

Hopefully these tips help you as much as they helped our crew!

Arnoldo Offermann Arnoldo Offermann (40 Posts)

Arnoldo Offermann is the president of 4SchoolsOnly, a national phenomenon in school dances. In a market where DJs cry about $500 school DJs, 4SO sees 10-20x that price tag per event. Arnoldo is also the creator of Master School Dances, the leading educational tools for DJs wanting to get into this great market. He is a sought-after speaker, reviewer, and DJ tech-writer. You can learn more at

Filed Under: DJing School Dances